Getting your year on financial track
Around 10% of the year has already flown by – but that means there’s still 90% of it left to make your mark on 2019 and take control of your finances.
If you resolved to do just that, but January wasn’t your month for whatever reason, then it’s time to be resilient, set a strategy, focus on your outcome and take consistent steps towards it.
In my book The Money Plan I set out a five-step process to getting financially organised. The first step is to set your compelling vision: what do you want the rest of your life to look like?
For many people, that big picture vision includes paying down debt or considering how and when they’d like to retire. Whatever your vision, you can’t just wish it to happen. You have to work hard, nothing comes without effort.
Once you’ve got your compelling vision, break it down into the steps you need to take to get there. One of those steps is to look at your income and expenditure, what’s coming in and what’s going out. The first number must be, or become, bigger than the second.
Go through every expenditure outcome and ask yourself those three all-important questions: Do I need this? Do I want this? Can I get it cheaper?
You might have to go without things for a period of time, for example by sacrificing your satellite subscription or forgoing your next phone upgrade. It’s all about sacrificing today so that you can have a fruitful future, and move towards your goals.
If you can’t earn more money in your current role, you might look for a second job, sell things online or even change your job altogether for more money. Those things won’t happen overnight, so plan out the steps needed.
A simple first step might be to put your CV together and scour job sites. You won’t get a job the same day, but you’re taking the actions to make it happen.
When it comes to selling, your first step might be going through your house and making a inventory of things to sell. Your next might then involve opening an eBay account and starting to list them.
Those tasks might not be massive things on their own, but each building goes up brick by brick. Small achievements, consistently done, is what takes us to greatness. Put a structure in place where you’re always taking steps towards your goals.
Remember to review
Looking back on what you’ve done is so important; you need to cherish what you’ve accomplished. If you’ve had a great start to 2019 and you’re already taking control of your financial life, then stop for a moment and congratulate yourself!
Equally, consider any tasks you’d planned that you haven’t been able to do. It might have been the weather, or your children being sick and off school: sometimes life gets in the way. By reviewing and thinking about the tasks you haven’t been able to get done yet, you can schedule them in in the future. That way, you’re not just letting things go.
The other thing that reviewing does is make you grateful. If you’re always pushing forward, trying to achieve more and more, you can forget where you’ve come from.
Every morning I write down three things that I’m grateful for. Some days they’re as simple as having a roof over my head and being warm. It’s important to bring things back to basics sometimes, because it makes you humble and realise what you’ve achieved.
Remember, if you resolved to take control of your finances this year but haven’t started yet, don’t beat yourself up; there’s plenty of time.
If you have started, then give yourself a pat on the back, review and enjoy a sense of achievement. Great years, great months and great days are made up of great decisions. It’s the decisions we consistently make to drive us forwards that get us where we’re looking to go in life, financially or otherwise.